“I’m off home, Mr. Frodo,” said Sam, poking his curly head around the study door.
“So soon?” Frodo sounded dismayed. “I was hoping you’d stay a bit longer so that I could show you that new manuscript I purchased this afternoon from the bookseller in Bywater. I feel certain you would enjoy it, Sam. The flower illustrations in the margins are quite lovely.”
“I’m right sorry, sir,” replied Sam awkwardly, “but my sisters and me are going up top the Hill to watch the falling stars. Maybe you don’t recall, but this time of year, they’re a sight and no mistake. Dozen and dozens on ‘em streaking by every minute... Fair take your breath away, they do, Mr. Frodo.”
“Falling stars?” repeated Frodo. “I’d quite forgotten about them, Sam. Why, Bilbo used to take me up on the roof of Bag End during the star showers. We’d lie on our backs in the grass and stare up at the sky for hours...” His voice went all soft and distant with memory, as it did when he talked about Mr. Bilbo, gone these seven years almost. “It’s been ages since I’ve done that. Not since Bilbo left, in fact.”
He sounded so wistful, and his blue eyes, eyes that ought, in Sam’s opinion, always to be smiling, looked sad. And if there was one thing Sam Gamgee couldn’t bear, it was for Frodo Baggins to be sad.
“Well, sir,” Sam said, struck by an inspiration. “Why can’t you look at them tonight? You’re welcome to join me and Daisy and May and Marigold.”
He was a little aghast at his own boldness in suggesting the idea, but Mr. Frodo had become more and more like a friend than an employer as the years passed. He frequently invited Sam to join him of an evening to share a glass of wine and a talk, or to show him one or the other of the books from his and Mr. Bilbo’s library.
Maybe it was time Sam returned the favour and did some inviting of his own. He wondered sometimes if Mr. Frodo wasn’t lonely, for he had no one, same as Mr. Bilbo before he brought Mr. Frodo home from Buckland all them years ago to be his heir. Mr. Frodo had regular visitors, of course, like his cousins Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin, and he went away to visit them from time to time, but he still spent too many days without anyone for company- except Sam, that is.
Of course, what Sam would really like to invite Mr. Frodo to do, he'd never have the nerve to suggest. Frodo Baggins had always seemed as far above him as the very stars Sam would soon be watching, and as unlikely to look at Sam Gamgee that way as he was to fly to the Moon.
But the very thought of lying beside his master in the sweet-scented grass under the night sky, even if it was only to watch the stars and with his sisters there to stop him from doing anything foolish, was enough to make Sam’s breath quicken- and other parts of him, too. He was very glad that the study door was shielding him from the neck downward.
“Really, Sam? You wouldn’t mind if I joined you?” Frodo asked. There was an eager light in his eyes, and a glow suffused his face, a face that Sam thought was surely fairer than that of any Elf who was ever born.
“Not a bit, Mr. Frodo,” Sam assured him with absolute truth. “We’d be right honoured, and that’s a fact.”
“Well then,” Frodo said in delight, closing the book he had been reading with a snap and setting it aside, “what time should I meet you?” He leaned forward eagerly, elbows on knees.
“Nine o’clock, sir, if that’s all right.” Sam couldn’t help but smile. Mr. Frodo looked like a child the night before Yule, anticipating the presents he’d be getting.
“Nine o’clock is perfect, Sam.”
“Well then, I’ll see you outside Number Three in a bit, Mr. Frodo,” Sam said with shy pleasure. “But I’d best get on home now.”
Frodo nodded. “Very well, Sam, you run along,” he said, smiling back. “And I promise not to be late.”
Sam practically floated down the hallway to the back door, hardly able to believe his good fortune. Mr. Frodo had said yes!
“But, Mari, what do you mean you can’t come?”
“I’m that sorry, Sam, but Tom stopped by earlier and asked me to go the barn dance with him. You couldn’t expect me to turn him down,” Marigold said reasonably.
“Well, no,” Sam agreed, “but first Daisy tells me she has to go sit by Mrs. Rumble who has a cold, and then May says she has the headache and needs to lie down, and now you’re going off to a dance…” Sam paced in an agitated manner around the kitchen of Number Three. “After I invited Mr. Frodo to join us and all. What if he thinks you decided to stay at home because you didn’t want his company? Oh, this is terrible!” he exclaimed, stopping and clutching at his sandy locks.
“Oh Sam,” Marigold soothed, going to him and setting a hand on his shoulder. “You’re in a panic over naught. Mr. Frodo won’t think any such thing. Just you tell him the truth, with no roundaboutation.”
Tell him the truth? Sam thought. Oh aye, that’d go over a treat. Mr. Frodo, I’ve been in love with you for years, and I’ve dreamed of kissing you under the stars, and in your study, and in the garden, and in your bed, and…
“Sam Gamgee, you’re blushing,” Marigold said, staring at him in amazement. “Whyever for?”
“No, I ain’t,” retorted Sam, who was, in fact, blushing furiously: over the image that had popped into his brain at the thought of him and Mr. Frodo in that large featherbed in the best bedchamber at Bag End. “I’m just embarrassed, is all, to have to explain to Mr. Frodo that my sisters are three of the rudest hobbits as ever lived.”
“Pfft,” said Marigold, tossing her head, and went off to dress for her dance.
“Hullo, Sam,” said Frodo brightly, as he met Sam at the gate to the yard of Number Three, holding a lighted lantern in his right hand and carrying a folded blanket draped over his left arm. “Isn’t it a lovely clear night? Perfect for stargazing.”
“Good evening, sir,” Sam replied. “Aye, it is that, but, well, I’m afraid I’ve some bad news.”
“Oh?” Frodo’s face fell. “Has something happened? Are we not going to be able to watch the star showers after all? I- I was very much looking forward to it, I must say.”
“Nay, sir,” Sam hastened to reassure him. “’Tis only that my sisters ain’t going to be coming with us, Mr. Frodo.” And he apologetically explained the various reasons that prevented Marigold, Daisy and May from joining them.
“Well, I’m sorry, of course, Sam, but we can still go, can we not?”
Sam was relieved to hear no slightest hint of disappointment or upset in his master’s voice. In fact, quite the reverse: Mr. Frodo sounded uncommonly cheerful. “Aye, we can still go.”
“Then let us go at once. We don’t want to miss a single falling star.” Frodo opened the gate and held it for Sam, and his face in the lantern light was filled with happy anticipation.
Sam’s spirits soared.
“How is this?” Frodo asked, coming to a halt. They were both panting a little, for they’d climbed quickly up the Hill, anxious to get to the top and start their stargazing.
“I think it’s a perfect spot, Mr. Frodo,” said Sam with approval. They were at the crest of the Hill, and below them the lights of Hobbiton and Bywater twinkled and gleamed, and the Water glimmered, a faint ribbon of silver. Above their heads, the sky was a vault of midnight blue and the stars were clustered thick and bright.
“Good. Well, let’s spread out the blanket, shall we?” Frodo began to set down the lantern, but Sam quickly said, “Here, give me the blanket, sir, and you hold the lantern.”
Sam took the fine wool blanket from his master, feeling rather as if he was in the midst of some wonderful dream. He expected any moment to wake up in his narrow bed with the scratchy straw-stuffed mattress and hear Daisy’s voice calling him for first breakfast. But no such disappointment occurred; the dream continued as Sam, with an expert flick of his wrists, snapped the blanket open and it settled gently down over the thick grass.
When Sam was done, Frodo shut the lantern, plunging them into darkness. Without a word, they sat down on the blanket side by side, but with a good foot and a half of space between them.
Sam’s heart was racing. He couldn’t help it. He’d never done aught like this with his master before, and the intimacy of lying beside him in the velvety darkness, almost as if they were in a bed together, was unnerving. Trying not to be too aware of the lithe form of Frodo, now lying back with his right arm beneath his head to pillow it, Sam followed suit, settling onto his back. But he was anything but relaxed, holding himself rigidly still with his legs together and his arms clamped to his sides. He must make a ridiculous sight, he thought miserably, but hoped Mr. Frodo would be too intent on the stars to notice Sam’s awkwardness.
Sam determinedly turned his eyes to the heavens, but he was peripherally aware of Frodo’s perfect profile dimly outlined in the darkness: the straight nose and the rounded chin with its faint cleft, and the delicately shaped lips, the bottom so full and the top so sweetly curved… And then there was the rest of him. Without the least intention of doing so, Sam found his gaze wandering the length of his master’s body. It came to rest on the inviting swell of his belly and just below it, another swelling, even more inviting…
“Sam!” Frodo gasped suddenly, pointing upward with his left hand. “Did you see that?”
Sam wrenched his eyes away, feeling a hot flush rise to his cheeks, and stared up, just in time to catch the faint shimmering trail of a falling star as it disappeared in the East.
“Oh, how lovely,” Frodo said in a hushed voice.
“Aye,” Sam agreed, but he wasn’t referring to the falling star. But just then another star streaked over their heads in a blaze of piercing white, and Sam gasped aloud, and his attention became fixed on the reason for their being there in the first place.
That falling star was soon followed by others, equally as magnificent, and for some time the two hobbits pointed and exclaimed in amazement, and then Frodo said softly: “Bilbo used to say that if you reached out your hand quickly enough, you could catch a falling star; snatch it right out of the sky, Sam, and put it in your pocket. Then you would have that beauty to look at whenever you liked.” He laughed. “Bilbo always had such fancies.” The laughter faded, and he sighed. “I miss him, Sam. I miss him so very much.”
Sam turned his head on the blanket, the wool soft beneath his cheek. Frodo was still staring up at the sky, but his brow was wrinkled, and he held his bottom lip firmly between his teeth as if to prevent himself from saying anything more.
“I know you do, sir, and so do I. He was a good friend to me and to my family. Same as you are, Mr. Frodo.”
His master looked at Sam then. “Thank you, Sam,” he said quietly. “It pleases me very much that you consider me to be a good friend, and not just your employer.”
His eyes, those startlingly blue eyes that Sam could never find adequate words to describe, appeared dark now and filled with mystery. They held Sam utterly captive for a long moment, before Frodo returned his gaze to the heavens without another word.
Sam let out his breath slowly, and tried to still his pounding heart; it sounded so loud to his ears that he feared Mr. Frodo would notice. Resolutely, he looked up at the stars once more. That look didn’t mean a thing, Sam Gamgee, he cautioned himself. ‘Twas only the night playing tricks on you, is all.
And just then, with a burst that was reminiscent of Gandalf’s fireworks at the Party, the heavens let loose with a positive torrent of falling stars. They streaked in every direction, crisscrossing the sky, and Sam felt his heart catch with the wonder and beauty of it.
“Oh Mr. Frodo,” he exclaimed softly, and without conscious volition, his right hand crept out. It encountered another hand, reaching out for his at the same moment. Soft and warm, it was the hand of a gentlehobbit: Frodo’s hand. Their fingers met and mingled, twining together.
Frodo started then, as if suddenly aware of what they were doing, and said without a trace of his usual self-possession, “I’m sorry, Sam, I wasn’t thinking…”
He made to draw his fingers away, but Sam replied, almost as if someone else was using his voice, for he had no idea where the courage to say the words came from, “I don’t mind, Mr. Frodo.”
The slow withdrawal stopped. “You- you don’t?”
“No, sir,” and the intimate darkness made it possible to go on, “To tell truth, it feels rather nice.”
Frodo rolled onto his side, facing Sam, without letting go of his hand. “Do you really mean that, Sam?” he asked intently, fixing him again with that mesmerising dark gaze.
They were much closer together now. Sam could only nod, and with a feeling of equal parts elation and terror, edged over onto his side so that they lay face to face, while over their heads the star shower went on, unnoticed.
“Because,” Frodo continued, “I’ve wanted to hold your hand this way for a very long time.” And he lightly stroked his thumb across the calloused palm, raising the most incredible sensations that shot straight to Sam’s groin, which tightened painfully.
“You- you have?” squeaked Sam, and blushed.
“I have. But that isn’t all I’ve wanted to do.” Frodo tugged gently, drawing Sam closer and closer, until Sam felt the heat radiating from his body. “I’ve wanted to do this, too.” And he tilted his head sideways and dipped it slightly to capture Sam’s lips with his own. They were soft as velvet and plump as down pillows and tasted sweeter than honey. He drew back after a moment, and asked quietly, “Do you mind?”
“I mind you stopping, sir,” Sam replied, and Frodo let out a laugh.
"Oh Sam," he said, "my dearest, most honest Sam."
My dearest? thought Sam, dazed and delighted, and then Frodo was moving over Sam and pushing him onto his back. He held Sam’s hands pinioned beside his head, and threw one smoothly muscled velvet-clad leg across Sam’s thighs. There was nothing gentle or brief about their next kiss: once acknowledged, the pent up feelings and longings of months could not be held back, but spilled forth with the dazzling intensity of the falling stars. Their tongues met and tangled as their hands had, but moved in a restless, intimate dance, exploring and tasting.
Before long, though, this exercise, though delightful, proved not enough for either of them, and Frodo moved again, settling fully atop Sam until he was cradled between Sam’s sturdy thighs, and Sam gasped against lips now hot and swollen from their kisses as he felt the hard ridge of his master’s erection come to rest against his own.
If he could have summoned a single coherent thought at that moment, Sam would have marvelled at this change in the gentle, reserved hobbit he had served for so long. But coherent thought was impossible with that lean, surprisingly strong body pressing him down into the blanket. Frodo moved his hips in firm circles, swallowing Sam’s whimpering cries as sensations unlike any he had ever known or even imagined at night in his solitary bed coursed through his body. Frodo drew the silky foot hair on the tops of his feet along Sam’s calves in a sensuous caress that was almost too much to bear.
“Mr. Frodo,” he begged, his head tossing restlessly on the blanket.
But there were still layers of clothing separating them, and finally Frodo released Sam’s hands and sat up, quickly unfastening his trousers’ buttons while Sam fumbled desperately to undo his own breeches. It was too dark for Sam to see clearly what he had longed to see for so long, but he could feel it, and did, when Frodo lowered himself onto Sam again, and their hard hot slippery lengths were at last touching with no barriers between them.
They could not stay still, but began to move immediately, writhing and pushing, struggling against each other until at last they found their rhythm, and then they rocked together as one, joining hands and mouths once more. It was over too soon, far, far too soon, as the perfect bliss of release took them at the same time, and their mingled cries rose up into the night.
“I’m so glad,” Frodo gasped against Sam’s neck a few minutes later, “that your sisters were unable to join us tonight, Sam.”
Sam laughed weakly. “No more nor I am, Mr. Frodo. And to think I was that upset with them.”
After another moment, Frodo slid off Sam, reluctantly, and pulled a handkerchief from his trousers’ pocket. A little shyly now, for the reality of what had just happened, and what it meant, was occurring to them both, they cleaned themselves and straightened their clothes.
“Did you…” Frodo cleared his throat as he put the soiled handkerchief back in his pocket. “Did you want to stay and watch the falling stars, Sam? I thought perhaps instead you might like to…” he hesitated then finished in a rush, “return to Bag End with me. Of course, if you don’t want to, I will understand.”
“I reckon I’ve seen enough of them stars for one night, Mr. Frodo,” Sam said, climbing to his feet and holding out his hand to his master. And as Frodo, smiling, took it, Sam thought, I’ve caught my falling star, just like Mr. Bilbo said, and I don’t need no other.